Australia Post has warned of further delivery delays as the postal service, already overburdened by recent shopping spikes, is now being hit by a surge of online sales events and pre-Christmas shopping.
With parcel shipments already breaking records in 2021, it expects December volumes to exceed last year’s total of 52 million parcels.
Gary Starr, Australia Post Executive General Manager, Business and Government, said that they’ve been seeing record parcel volumes, with more than 5.9 million households shopping online each month – that’s more than half of all Australian households – and it’s showing no signs of slowing down as we head into the Christmas shopping season.
“We encourage people to make a note of these important delivery dates, because although we’ll deliver items sent after these dates as quickly as we can, they may not arrive until after Christmas,” Mr Starr said.
In terms of online sales and logistics, the next two weeks are likely to be the busiest of the year. Click Frenzy, a 53-hour online sale that began on November 9, is the first of several major e-commerce events. In the same month, it will be followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which will take place from November 26 to November 29.
Ramping up the efforts
To keep up with demand, Australia Post has committed an extra $400 million in new parcel facilities, fleet, and technology by mid-2022, bringing the total promised expenditure to more than $1 billion over three years.
This includes major parcel processing facilities that have recently opened in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, as well as five completely new facilities that are now under construction in Perth (WA), Bayswater (VIC), Western Sydney (NSW), Botany (NSW), and Tullamarine (VIC).
The company has also committed an extra $20 million over the next year to upgrading systems to cloud-based technologies in order to improve parcel scanning and tracking on the web.
Australia Post Group Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director Paul Graham said that the company must continue to invest in major parcel processing centres in order to keep up with the expected surge in online purchasing.
“Four of these new facilities are located close to major eCommerce hubs in NSW and Victoria, with the fifth a $42 million investment on the west coast to meet the growing demand for parcel services in Western Australia,” Mr Graham said.
“This is in addition to newly launched facilities in Adelaide and pop-up facilities across the network, adding 30 per cent extra processing capacity this Christmas.
“We are also investing to extend our already extensive last-mile delivery network – with a further $31 million committed to the new electric delivery vehicle fleet – which are better for the environment and safer for our people,” he added.
Recently, Australia Post set up its first major dedicated parcel facility in South Australia, providing a boost to local customers ahead of the holiday season. The $31.4 million investment is part of Australia Post’s overall ongoing commitment to meet growing eCommerce demand, with $450 million invested into the network last year alone.
Similarly, a massive new $71 million parcel distribution centre in Victoria is set to help meet the unprecedented demand.
Impact on Businesses
Australia Post offers numerous advantages, including assisting businesses in expanding their customer base and reach, extending the scope of services offered, increasing access to suppliers, and improving the security of business operations.
Australia Post was a big contributor to helping businesses survive COVID-19, with 63% of polled businesses stating the Post Office was critical for their business surviving COVID-19, and 54% saying it saved employment, according to a Deloitte Access Economics study.
While the community and social benefits of local Post Office access were not surprising, Deloitte Access Economics Partner John O’Mahony stated that the economic and business importance of mailing services was higher than they predicted.
“Australian businesses rely on Australia Post for eCommerce, communication, banking needs and more. Almost two-thirds say the Post Office was vital for their business surviving COVID-19 and over half say it saved jobs.
“Much has been said about the importance of digital tools in helping Australians manage through the pandemic, but this research shows how Australia Post has been critical also,” Mr O’Mahony said.
Christmas delivery deadlines
The key dates to remember for most parcels sent within Australia are December 13 for Parcel Post and December 20 for Express Post.
The mailing company recommends sending sooner to select destinations, such as Perth, Darwin, and areas outside of metro areas, and checking the Australia Post website for Christmas cards should be mailed by December 16, and customers mailing them overseas should do it as soon as possible because cut-off dates vary depending on the destination.